Mill Ownership and Farmer's Cooperative Behavior: The case of Costa Rica Coffee Farmers

Astrid Hopfensitz, and Josepa Miquel-Florensa


We analyze how Costa Rican coffee farmer's behavior in an experimental public good game depends on the type of mill where the farmers sell their coffee (Cooperative vs. privately owned mills), and on the background of their game partners (partners selling to same type of mill or not). We find that cooperative farmers do not display more public good orientation than private market farmers when playing with partners from the same type of mill. However, while farmers selling to private mills make no difference with respect to the background of partners, farmers selling to cooperatives significantly decrease contributions when paired with non-cooperative members. Finally, we study how self-selection into a mechanism that punishes the lowest contributors affects contributions both inside the group and with partners of the opposite background, and show that this increases contributions in the games played with farmers selling to different mill type.


Cooperatives; Coffee; Institutions; Public Good; Experiment; Costa Rica;

JEL codes

  • C92: Laboratory, Group Behavior
  • O13: Agriculture • Natural Resources • Energy • Environment • Other Primary Products
  • Q13: Agricultural Markets and Marketing • Cooperatives • Agribusiness


Published in

Journal of Institutional Economics, vol. 13, n. 3, September 2017, pp. 623–648